The 61st Blyth Sands Race took place on Sunday morning over the traditional 5 mile beach course from Blyth to Seaton Sluice and back, with some 150 hardy souls battling the elements as well as the wet sand and breakwaters.
This year’s race was made even more demanding, with the traditional ‘groyne strain’ over the breakwaters at the Blyth end compounded by a lashing Northerly wind and driving rain which made the return leg from Seaton Sluice a difficult ordeal.
Once again Male Veterans were to the fore, with a past race winner Ian Twaddle, now wearing a Blackhill Bounders vest, running off a four-minute handicap to come home with a thirty metre lead overall ahead of Over 60 Ian Norman of Heaton Harriers. Remarkably, Twaddle’s actual time of 33 minutes 12 seconds was the 2nd fastest time of the day, just behind that of Richard Bateson of home club Blyth who ran 32:23.
There were three Morpeth Harriers in the top ten with Gary Jones 6th in 31:25 off a two-minute handicap, Lee Bennett two seconds behind in 7th off 4 minutes, and John Butters 8th in 31:50 off 3 minutes.
With Richard Johnson, looking strong in his first race for a while, 4th counter in 27th (35:25 off scratch), there was a 1st team prize for the club ahead of North Shields Polytechnic Harriers.
Johnson was chased by Mark Snowball, 75th in 35:41 off scratch, and O/60 Andrew Dippie, who ran well for 35th place (36:25 off a 7 minute handicap).
Laura Shaw also braved the conditions to come home in 77th place in 40:28 off a six minute handicap. Fastest female time of the day was by Abigail Timms of Heaton Harriers with an actual time of 41:52 with Heather Christopher of Blyth the 1st female finisher in 17th off a 9 minute handicap.
Some 143 finished the sell-out race, which had a limit of 200 – so at least a quarter of the entrants must have got up, looked out of the window and thought better of it!
Meanwhile news from the States that Morpeth Harrier Scott Beattie, currently studying at Tulsa University, took 18 seconds off his personal best when winning the 5000m at the memorably-named Wooo Pig Classic at Fayetteville, Arkansas on Friday night in a time of 13 minutes 40.42 seconds.